Can banks be a force for good in the world? We think so. After all, when you deposit money in the bank, it doesn’t just sit there. Banks send as much as 90% of customer deposits back out into the world. Some of that money goes toward financing home loans, car loans, and local businesses. It can also go toward large scale projects, some of which may not align with your personal values.
What on Earth Is Your Bank Financing?
At Bank of the West, what we don’t finance is just as important as what we do. We don’t support ventures we believe to be environmentally destructive.
What We Don’t Finance
Click on each area for our detailed policy:
Catastrophic accidents, especially oil spills, open the door to widespread destruction in currently pristine, unindustrialized environments, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Coal-fired power generation is a large emitter of carbon dioxide, accounting for 30% of energy-related CO2 emissions. In response, we restrict the financing of coal-fired power plants that are not actively involved in the energy transition.
Unconventional oil and gas projects may endanger water, soil, and air quality due to the resources necessary for extraction as well as increased potential for oil spills.
While tobacco is bad for people, it’s worse for the environment. Cigarette butts are the #1 source of micro-plastics found in wildlife.
Palm oil provides a source of revenue and ensures subsistence for millions of people living in developing countries. However, operating these plantations can have a range of negative effects on local communities, climate change, and ecosystems.
As the demand for paper-based products grows over the next decade, this development will have a major impact on our planet’s environment.
Bank of the West Is Pledging $1 Billion to Finance Energy Transition
In support of global energy transition, we’ve also committed $1 billion in financing, over the next five years, to investments in green technology like hydroelectric and solar power sources; financing new construction that are LEED certified and energy efficient; and discounts on both loans for electric vehicles and home equity lines of credit for solar panels.
Global Perspectives: The United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development
Bank of the West recognizes that energy transition initiatives can only succeed as part of a global effort involving governments working with private sector and civic groups. That’s why we actively support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders at a historic UN summit in September 2015.
Each of the UN’s goals has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years, and we monitor our progress in providing loans to companies that have directly contributed to achieving those objectives.
In fact, our parent company, BNP Paribas Group, was one of the first companies to include the United Nations’ SDGs as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. In 2019, the Group was named “World’s Best Bank for Sustainable Finance.”
We are striving to develop a culture where sustainability is part of the fabric of our organization and the business decisions we make. Through our policies and practices, we are taking a leadership role in working with civic entities, humanitarian agencies, and environmental groups include:
- Ocean Conservancy, NatureBridge, and Sustainable Ocean Alliance: Working with leading organizations dedicated to ocean cleanup and conservations helps us advocate for a cleaner planet
- Grameen Bank: Our investments in microfinance will help aspiring women entrepreneurs create more than 12,000 new small businesses and add 21,000 new jobs in low-income communities throughout the U.S.
- Whitaker Peace Development Initiative: Our five-year partnership is designed to foster peace and conflict resolution, and encourage entrepreneurial initiatives among young people in Greater Los Angeles and South Africa
Conscientious Choices Make for Long-Term Prosperity
At Bank of the West, we choose to support the global transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy—by what we are doing, and just as importantly, by what we aren’t. Most of us go to banks to safeguard our money and by extension our future. Today, to care about the future, you’ve got to care about the environment. It’s that simple.